Day two at the Monterey auctions saw eye-watering record prices and segments of a red-hot car market getting even hotter. Gooding and Bonhams began their auctions and both RM Sotheby’s and Mecum continued their second day. So far, a total of 556 vehicles have sold for $260.9 million.
The big story of the day was once again analog supercars from the 1990s and early 2000s. We had these on our radar to begin with, but no one—not even the auction companies setting the estimates—expected the new heights they’ve found. Gooding & Company sold a 1993 Porsche 911 Carrera RSR 3.8 for $1.215M—30% over its high estimate—and a 2004 Ferrari Enzo at $4.13M, making it only the second Enzo to sell for more than $4M and the highest sale since 2015.
These new rising stars aren’t staple classics in the same vein as mainstays like ’60s Ferraris or Shelby Cobras. Rather, they’re modern, more usable cars now enjoying a market upset by those who now have the cash to buy the poster cars of their youth. To wit: Gooding’s Ferrari F40 sold for $1.08M more than the previous record set just last year. That same F40 sold in 2018 for $1.71M, providing a 132% return in four years.
In contrast to the meteoric rise of these supercars, some exceptionally desirable and significant historic cars failed to sell. Mecum missed on one of its biggest cars – the 1-of-23 1964 Shelby 427 Competition Cobra stalled at a high bid of $4.8M. Similarly, Gooding’s 1950 Ferrari 166 MM came close to its $5.5M estimate with a $4.9M high bid, but it failed to find a new home, and the superstar 1-of-12 1963 Jaguar E-Type Lightweight at Bonhams failed to sell at a $6.3M high-bid.
Prewar cars by and large remained stable today, with many meeting or falling just short of their low estimates. A few exhibited some fireworks, however. At Bonhams, a 1903 Winton Tony Tonneau exceeded its high estimate of $250,000 in an unexpected $335,000 sale, and a 1926 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost more than doubled its high estimate, selling for $1,325,000. Overall sell-through rate for prewar cars this week stands at 76 percent—a better clip than at any point since 2014 for prewar cars.
On the note of sell-through rates, the $1M+ estimated car sell-through rate sits at 73%, a slight drop from last year’s 77% but a massive up-tick from 2019’s 53%. Given that there are 148 million-plus dollar cars available—the most ever at Monterey—we’re seeing more high-dollar cars move than ever before.
Transacting one of the world’s most valuable motorcycles at a car auction can be a tall order, but Gooding had a chance today. The final Crocker ever built, a 1942 Big-Twin, was thought to be a potential record-breaker, but bidding stalled at $700,000 and it was a no-sale.
Saturday offers an opportunity for more supercar validation, with RM’s Ferrari 288 GTO, F40, and Jaguar XJR-15. Mecum has an F40, along with three prototype Ferraris and a suite of Ultimate Series McLarens to test more modern supercar tastes, with four Marmon V-16s and the ex-Paul Walker Porsche Carrera 2.7 RS headlining the more traditional selections. RM Sotheby’s might have the top sale of the week with its 1955 Ferrari 410 Sport estimated between $25M and $30M.
What isn’t being talked about is the mid-level car inventory. We knew going in the high level cars were coming to town. This is translating to recorded sales. Did the online auction format pull out that slice of the market. Were collectors of high end cars signaling a willingness to liquidate rather than hold for another cycle as there were signs of softening in the recent run up in prices. If the online sales bring new people into the market it will take a year or two to have that show up in live sales data.